The idea for establishing a new agility club was motivated by a need for a local agility club to host AKC trials in the area. Before LEAP, the AKC agility trials in the area were hosted by obedience or breed clubs. Most of LEAP's founding members had worked with other clubs to host agility trials. LEAP began with a wealth of experience, enthusiasm and dedication!
The club's first meeting was held during a trial in upstate NY in 1999. In addition to it being the first meeting, it was memorable for a couple of reasons. The meeting took place at a large mall that included a beautiful carousel ride inside the mall. Of course, in the fun-loving spirit that would become a part of LEAP, we just had to take a ride on the carousel! Present at this first meeting were club co-founders, Shirley LaFlamme and Debbie Hunt, and Tibby Chase, Ellen DeWolf and Bonnie Bartlett. The most important decision we made at this meeting was that our new club would be "the club that got along!"
Shortly the club generated more interest and support and the first slate of officers were elected: Shirley LaFlamme, President; Debbie Hunt, Vice-President; Monica Land, Secretary; Bonnie Bartlett, Treasurer; Ellen DeWolf, Membership Secretary; Noreen Bennett and Debbie Wilkinson, Directors. Bylaws were soon developed and adopted that called for two additional directors to join the board, and Tibby Chase and Mike Gramarossa accepted these positions.
The idea for LEAP's name and logo were submitted by member, Carol Kasabian. Monica Land refined the logo idea and created the distinctive geometric dog leaping over the top of an a-frame in LEAP's logo. Did you know that at first it was suggested that LEAP stand for "Local Eastern Agility Players"? It was decided to just simplify things, as we needed to specify a geographic location in our name to satisfy an AKC club requirement…………so we became LEAP Agility Club of Central Massachusetts.
LEAP was driven to gain AKC recognition and we got to work on meeting the requirements. We raised funds for insurance by holding raffles at the November Cluster shows and coordinating workers at trials. LEAP was also very involved with supporting the AKC National Championships held in Springfield, MA in 2000 (with our own, Debbie Hunt, chairing them!). LEAP continued to proceed with hosting show and go's, run-thrus, training workshops, etc., to meet AKC Club Relations requirements. Not a simple process by any means, but in November 2000 LEAP was granted approval for hosting of a sanctioned agility match. We held a well-received sanctioned match at Merryfields in Feb. 2001.
On May 7, 2001, LEAP was informed by Club Relations that all our hard work had paid off and LEAP was granted approval to host licensed agility trials. We got to work planning the first one for October 27-28. 2001 in Brimfield, MA. With a Halloween theme, beautiful crisp, cool weather, and a great coordinated effort by LEAP members, our first trial was a huge success!